Mother tongue instructions as a human right A study of the merits and demerits of mother tongue instruction in post-independence Namibian schools

Main Article Content

Christian Harris


The paper aimed at studying the challenges as well as the potential benefits associated with using African languages as the main medium of instructions in Namibian schools.   Research indicates that there is more to gain in promoting African languages in all aspects of education and governance than the opposite. Countries that place greater emphasis on mother tongue instructions continue to thrive socially and economically. Countries such as China, Japan, South Korea,  are some of the Asian countries who were once dominated by Europeans who opted for investing in their languages and are thriving economically.  The results of the research  indicates that the sole use of English language as the main medium of instruction in schools is the reason for high failure rates in grade 10 and 12 final examinations. Due to lack of enthusiasm from the government regarding the use of indigenous African languages as M.O.I , many teachers and students alike still prefer English to be the main medium of instruction in schools at the expense of their own languages. The government should revise its education policy on language instruction and put more emphasis on the need to robustly use indigenous African languages with English in all schools.

Article Details

How to Cite
Harris, C. (2024). Mother tongue instructions as a human right: A study of the merits and demerits of mother tongue instruction in post-independence Namibian schools. NAWA Journal of Language and Communication, 17(1), 24–35.
Author Biography

Christian Harris, University of Namibia

Dr Christian Harris is a Lecturer at the University of Namibia under the Department of Public and Procedural Law. Before he was appointed a Lecturer, Dr Harris worked as a Development Planner and Legal Officer at the then Ministry of Gender Equality and Child Welfare as well as the Ministry of Justice respectively. He holds a B. Juris, LLB, LLM and PhD degrees from the University of Namibia as well as an Advanced Diploma in Management from Studio Multiversity, formerly the Southern Business School. At the Ministry of Justice, Dr Harris drafted human rights state reports, processed extradition requests to and from Namibia, and trained civil servants and NGOs on state reporting among other responsibilities. Dr Harris is also an Arbitrator with the Ministry of Labour, Industrial Relations and Employment Creation. Furthermore, Dr Harris is an alumnus of the International Law of the Sea, Hamburg, Germany, and the International Visitor Leadership Program on U.S. Foreign Policy: Human Rights, organized by the U.S. Department of State, Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs. He is currently teaching or taught the following subjects in the School of Law of the University of Namibia: Legal Interpretation and Drafting, Alternative Dispute Resolution, Introduction to Human Rights Law, Alternative Dispute Resolution, Family Mediation, Negotiation, Ombuds Law, Basic Principles of Legal Processes, Family Law and Environmental Law. His research interests are largely on the principles of International Law, Alternative Dispute Resolution, Media and Communications Law, African Legal Philosophy as well as Human Rights Law with a special focus on linguistic, cultural, and religious minorities.


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